There’s a reason these photos are so bleh. Well, actually, there are two reasons, one of which is a little incriminating. So if I tell you the whole story, will you promise not to hold it against me?
First, and this is just a fact we must learn to accept, much like regular exercise is a part of being healthy or you can’t eat an entire chocolate cake every night in good conscience.
Second, and here’s the part where I start to look bad: I may or may not have accidentally almost burned down my kitchen Saturday afternoon, during the last bits of natural light I had left trying to get this photographed.
Here’s what happened: That morning, the tart I was making overflowed in the oven and made quite a mess – a mess, which, after I pulled the tart out, I forgot about completely.
So a few hours later, when I turned the little temperature knob to preheat the oven again, ready to bake some bread dough, I had no (!) idea (!) that doing so would make the goopy mess burn and send clouds of dark smoke all over my kitchen, enough to set my heart racing, have me screaming things like “Is there a fire?” and “What do I do?”
There is some mercy here, as you can probably guess from the statements of maybe and almost above.
When I opened the smoking oven, there was no fire or serious damage – just A. LOT. OF. SMOKE. And all things considered, this was no catastrophe.
Things did smell a little, well, let’s just say s’mores sounded strangely fitting – but nothing was truly harmed.
And when all was said and done, fans set up to cool the kitchen and draw remaining smoke out, I still had to do something with the dough that had been rising.
Eventually I was able to bake it, and when it came out of the oven, golden and shimmering with crystals of sea salt, decorated with flecks of herbs, I knew I couldn’t very well wait until the next day to photograph it.
I had just had a near-death experience, and the hot fougasse dough smelled rich with rosemary and thyme, scents of healing and warmth. You understand, don’t you?
Fougasse is the French version of Italian focaccia, which is a savory flat bread I’ve always really enjoyed at those Macaroni Grill chain restaurants.
In fact, this fougasse tasted almost exactly like that bread, but with a different texture, less spongy and maybe more dense. Its slightly crisp shell gives way to soft, downy insides, and the herbs and toppings create incredible flavor.
What makes fougasse distinct is its shape, somewhat like a tree or a large leaf. Slits create a lattice effect in the appearance, which, I should add, is also very handy for tearing chunks off with your hands.
And, let’s just say, even near-fires aside, tearing fresh bread with your hands is always a good thing.
This recipe was slightly Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking.
The Art & Soul of Baking available on Amazon
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna has a Masters in Writing through Depaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.